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Curious about where the funds go?

ESR road warrior Dr. Joyce Ohm weighs in.

Your fundraising for Empire State Ride has a significant impact on cancer care and treatment at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. Few know that better than four-time ESR road warrior Joyce Ohm, PhD, Interim Chair of Cancer Genetics and Genomics. Not only is Dr. Ohm out on the road every July with Empire State Ride — fighting hills, weather and fatigue as she bikes from Staten Island to Niagara Falls—but she’s also in the lab at Roswell Park, fighting to find cures for all types of cancer. 

 

We sat down with Dr. Ohm to ask a few questions and learn more about the impact of the funds raised through Empire State Ride.

Joyce stands side by side with a fellow road warrior at Wagner College this past July.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your role at Roswell Park.

A: I’m a scientist at Roswell Park, so I’m someone who does research for a living. This is what I do, and it’s what I believe in. It is amazing to see riders put a tremendous amount of trust in us — it really is a special, amazing thing to think about. I cannot imagine what it must be like as an oncologist to say to a patient, ‘I don’t have anything else for you.’ As researchers, that’s our job: We’re there to put new tools in the toolbox. The dollars that go to Roswell Park fund that, especially in three key areas.

Q: How has cancer treatment changed over the years?

For 20 years, we had chemotherapy and surgery and radiation. For some patients, that’s all we have still today. But there are new therapies being developed. It’s amazing to watch, just in my short career, how much everything has changed. In fact, we’ve reached a point where we’re really treating individual patients, not cancer as a whole, and that has added years to many patients’ lives.

Q: What are those key areas where the funds go?

A: First, they fund genetic testing and the development of new genetic tests — to help us decide what therapies might work best for our patients and to cover the costs of those tests for people who cannot afford them. The research world is completely different now, and how we treat patients is completely different. Now, we often make decisions about treatment based on genetic markers.

The second place the money goes is to clinical trials. New drugs and new therapies go through a rigorous testing process that takes many years and millions of dollars to get to clinic. We have tons of tools in our toolbox, especially for the more common cancers like breast and lung and colon. But for those rare cancers, like osteosarcomas and pediatric tumors, we don’t have new drugs for patients yet, and we’re working really, really hard to get them. A good chunk of the money raised for ESR goes to fund clinical trials, specifically to help patients who run out of other options. It goes to research teams who are asking cutting-edge questions, who are developing new therapies, who are learning more and more about tumors every day and who are learning how to treat individual patients. All of those dollars really, really pay off.

Then, we bring in federal support, pharmaceutical support and support from outside to really help make those dollars grow. And so, the impact of the dollars raised at Empire State Ride makes a tremendous difference for our patients.

Q: So, what does the future of cancer treatment look like?

A: Immunotherapy, including a really huge area of research at Roswell Park called CAR T-cell therapy, is making tremendous strides for our patients in every disease site that we’ve tested it in. We expect to see impressive changes in the next five to 10 years. There are new targeted therapies every day. So, every time we learn something new about a tumor, we’re able to start to think about ways to treat that and target it. New drugs are in development to achieve that.

Q: How does that all tie back to Empire State Ride?

A: Cancer touches all of us in many, many ways. When you think about what someone with cancer is going through today, you realize that what we struggled with on the road for Empire State Ride is nothing. 

But the fundraising is everything, and it’s making a difference.

Q: What does outside support look like?

Statistically, for every dollar that we raise through events like the Empire State Ride, we’re able to match that by $13 from external funding, from federal sources and other places. If every dollar that comes in gets magnified by 13, you can start to imagine the tremendous impact that we can have.

I see riders every day and tell them, ‘Those dollars matter. Those $5, $10, $20 donations are going to turn into cures, and they’re going to save lives.’”

ESR to end cancer logo

 

Thinking about joining Dr. Ohm on the road in 2023? Join our mailing list to learn more.

Top fundraisers bring innovative research to the forefront

2021 Top Fundraisers Brought an Innovative New Research Project to Roswell Park

Every year, Empire State Ride brings in funds that are dedicated toward Roswell Park’s mission to continue to uncover better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat all kinds of cancers. Road warriors pave the way for lifechanging new treatments, groundbreaking clinical trials and innovative research and discoveries.

On Sac Grants

Roswell Park is pushing to eliminate cancer’s grip on humanity every day. Over the years, we’ve seen the genesis of groundbreaking and lifesaving advances right here in Buffalo. Those new treatments and findings all have their start with new questions and ideas from Roswell Park scientists.

 

That’s where Roswell Park’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) comes in. Researchers submit their project proposals, all looking to continue to learn more about cancer. Through a competitive and rigorous process, these investigators and their work have been funded. These grants are made possible by the generosity of Roswell Park fundraisers and their donors, without whom, these projects could not get off the ground and make their marks on cancer as we know it.

From Fundraising to research

In 2022, the funds raised by the 2021 top Excelsior fundraisers (those who raised $20,000 or more) for Empire State Ride were put toward one project in particular. These road warriors have empowered Roswell Park to investigate racial health disparities for African American men with prostate cancer in a project led by Anna Woloszynska, PhD, Roswell Park Associate Professor of Oncology in the Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics.

 

In Western New York, African American men are more likely than other men to have prostate cancer, more likely to have aggressive forms and more likely to lose their battle. Dr. Woloszynska’s research will take a deeper look at these patients’ epigenetic age — a way of determining age not in terms of one’s chronological age or time on Earth, but their biological age, taking into account disease risks and exposures — to determine if their epigenetic age is accelerated and if that contributes to early onset disease in patients younger than 55 years old. The findings will lay the groundwork for discoveries that will hopefully identify higher risk individuals and save more lives, reducing and ultimately eliminating the existing racial health disparity.

Top 2021 Excelsior Fundraisers

This work is made possible by the top ESR 2021 Excelsior fundraisers and their donors:

·         John Arfman

·         Terry Bourgeois

·         David Brown

·         Thomas Flynn

·         Anne Gioia

·         Gary Kuhlmann

·         Jerry Lewandowski

·         Richard Noll

·         Maria Coccia Thor

·         Geoffrey Wilk

 

Because of these riders and everyone who supported them, Roswell Park will be able to gain a deeper understanding of cancer and seek to bridge gaps in healthcare, providing the best possible treatment for every patient. Thanks to road warriors and every person who contributes to Empire State Ride, research like this can continue to move forward, guiding us in the best ways to fight cancer.

Looking forward

In the same way, the 2022 top fundraisers are going to make a direct impact on emerging cancer research at Roswell Park. Keep an eye out for those fundraisers and the work their fundraising will support.

LEarn more 

Homestretch! How to get those last-minute donations.

Your fundraising efforts for Empire State Ride fuel critical research that directly impacts the lives of cancer patients at Roswell Park. As we enter the final weeks before our weeklong challenge, now’s the time to rev up donations to reach your goal in time for the big day. Whether you’ve already passed your goal or you’re almost there, we have you covered with fundraising tips to help you go the distance.

Check out these words of advice from your fellow road warriors.

🚲 leT YOUR DONORS KNOW THEIR IMPACT IS huge.

“From a fundraising standpoint, it’s really important for riders to stress that every dollar you raise gets multiplied by 13. When you can show that financial impact, it is huge. People buy $10 worth of raffle tickets, for example, and it becomes $130 in grant research dollars. When you start putting it like that, it’s really easy for someone to give that $10. If you give me a hundred dollars, now it becomes $1,300 in grant research money. The power of that is amazing.” 

– Road warrior Shelley Unocic.

🚲 Team together.

“Everyone on our team went out and got donations. We purchased some things on our own and put baskets together. One hundred percent of those proceeds are going back to our team goal.”

– Road warrior Shelley Unocic.

🚲 Give people something in return.

“Try to do things that people can actually get something else out of, as well. Instead of just asking them to hand over a donation, ask them to put money toward a dinner or raffle.”

– Road warrior Erica Pompey

🚲 Don’t be afraid to ask.

“My father always said, ‘If you don’t ask, all they can do is say no.’ Right now, what I do for fundraising for team GBY9 is mail out 400 letters. Anybody that I know gets a letter —my doctor, my lawyer, the cleaners, whoever. Anybody I know will receive a letter. And that’s how I do my fundraising.”

– Road warrior Maria Thor

🚲 Remind people what it’s all about.

“I hit and bring to heart what it is really about. It isn’t really about the cycling, which is the fun part, but it’s about how we support the Roswell Park community and help with the fundraising for the clinical trial processes.”

— Road warrior Richard Noll

 

🚲 Use Your Contacts

“I use a very simple process. What I do is this: Every night at this time of the year, as I’m watching TV, I open my fundraising app and go into my phonebook, and I send personalized text messages with the link. Hey, Steve, it’s Rich. Hope all is well. As you know, this is my fifth year riding for Roswell. I would love your support again. I go through one letter of the alphabet every night. Then I go through my emails. Then I go back, and I start making personal phone calls.”

— Road warrior Richard Noll

However you choose to fundraise, keep the momentum going!

Read more about your impact.

6 ways to use the#ESR21 fundraising app

Fundraising $3,500 can be a challenge. But with the right passion, hard work and tools, anyone can do it. Download the Empire State Ride fundraising app, which makes reaching the fundraising commitment easier.

Now, everything you need to be a successful fundraiser will be located in one place on your mobile device. Features of the app include:

  • Monitoring your fundraising progress
  • Sharing your page using social media (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) and SMS
  • Viewing and managing donations
  • Updating your page with a personalized story and photo
  • Integrating with Facebook to start a fundraiser
  • Easily importing email contacts and sending emails

The app is available for both Apple and Android devices. Head to either the App Store or Google Play, search Empire State Ride Fundraising and select download – it’s that easy.

Take a Tour of the App

With this new tool, there’s so much you can do. Here are 6 ways to make the most out of it.

Monitor Your Fundraising Progress

Once you log in using your credentials from registration, you will see your fundraising progress. Here, you can:

  1. Track your goal
  2. Adjust your goal
  3. See your team’s progress (if on a team)

Share Your Page

Now that you’ve made the commitment to fundraise for cancer research, it’s time to spread the word. The Empire State Ride app makes it easy to share your personalized page across many platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and SMS. You can share your page from three different locations on the app:

  1. Home (right under your fundraising progress)
  2. Donors
  3. Page

View and Manage Donations

Keep track of your donations all under the Donors tab. You can see who’s donated to your efforts and how much they gave. You’ll be able to thank them right through the app, too. Additionally, you can opt to be notified via email when you receive a donation. This is a great option to make sure you never miss a chance to say thank you to a donor.

Update Your Page and Picture

Updating your page and photo just got easier. Instead of needing a desktop or laptop, now all you need is your phone and the app.
Make sure to update the story of why you’re participating in the Empire State Ride. This will help donors understand your drive and passion, which can ultimately lead to donations.

Integrate with Facebook

Facebook fundraising is an incredible tool to reach more donors than ever. Integrating your personalized page with the social media giant is one of the best things you can do. Now, you can do it through the app with one simple click. Simply scroll down on the home screen and click “Connect to Facebook.”

Send Emails to Contacts

If you have your email contacts stored on your phone, you can easily import them into this app. It automatically syncs with your address book, making it that much easier to reach out to your contacts to spread the word about your #ESR21 fundraiser.

The Empire State Ride Fundraising app will help you reach and exceed your fundraising goals. Download it today to get started.

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